Live Review: Opinionated and Ostentatious, Morrissey Shows Lasting Power

Published on January 17th, 2013

MorrisseyMorrissey performs on January 16, 2013 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland

It was halfway through Morrissey’s Bethesda, M.D. performance when a fan became a bit too personal and climbed on stage for what he hoped would be a hug with his idol. Without batting an eye, the alluring British singer continued through the lyric of the moment.

Five minutes later, he was giving his audience a lighthearted yet serious commentary on vegetarianism.

What comes next at a Morrissey concert is always a surprise.

But that’s the most accurate descriptor for his music career, a varied work of thirty years and counting which ranges from the most peaceful soundscapes to jarring punk rock.

In today’s world, Morrissey fits in perfectly with the revival of older acts among the music-buying youth, a top benefactor of a movement that’s brought his former band The Smiths to even higher levels of fame than they achieved while still together.

For the concert at Bethesda’s modern and trendy Music Center at Strathmore, a mix of college-age fans and those closer to the singer’s age could be seen sipping wine as they anticipated the thrills ahead.

On stage, Morrissey and his band wore white buttoned shirts, in perfect harmony with the evening’s upscale atmosphere. Perhaps they had been enjoying fine wine backstage as well.

His signature pompadour may be more greyed now, but there’s been no reduction in stage energy. With a famously expressive face and sweeping gestures he brought a fresh zeal to songs old and new, flowing through each number and thrashing his microphone cord continuously.

Part of Morrissey’s lasting charm is an apparent contradiction. While maintaining a somewhat cold and decidedly serious demeanor, at times there’s a humor to be read between the lines in the way he dialogues with the crowd.

“History can be made on Wednesday just like any other day. Unless you’re tired from the day before. A long day shopping at PetCo, perhaps.”

They hung on every last drop of it.

Relying on no particular time period more heavily than the next, the set had a surprisingly cohesive feel. There’s a certain musical link between an old tune like “Everyday is Like Sunday”, from his first solo album, and his 2009 single “Throwing My Arms Around Paris”.

For Morrissey, sticking around through good and bad times has its rewards. His power in the music industry may be greater than ever as more and more funnel into his base of loyal fans. There’s no telling how long this revival trend will last, but it no longer matters because he’s transcended it.

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